Amid Covid-19 pandemic why we need to know about Zoonotic diseases

By: Dr Maria Abbas and Dr Nazir Ahmed

Every year world zoonoses day is celebrated on 6th July as it was on this day in 1885 that Louis Pasteur successfully administered the first vaccine against the rabies virus, a deadly zoonotic diseases. The main purpose of the celebration of this day is to spread the awareness regarding the zoonotic diseases its importance and its ill hazards among the common masses.


This year on 6 th July, the 150 partners in the “one health poultry hub” will observe a two minute silence of private reflection at noon time local, on those who are known, and those who remain unknown, who are suffering from endemic and emergent zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19 and Ebola.

This year the world zoonoses day comes amidst the defining global health crisis of our time. Zoonoses is defined as “those infectious diseases or their agents naturally transmissible between animals and human beings” Zoonoses comprises of two greek words “zoon” means animal and “noses” mean diseases. A total of 1415 diseases have been found infecting human
beings, out of which approximately 60.3% are zoonotic in nature. Out of 175 infectious diseases that are emerging or re-emerging, about 75% are zoonotic.


The zoonotic diseases cause huge economic losses on account of heavy mortality and morbidity of livestock wealth and mankind as well as on account of national and international trade restrictions. The greatest burden on human health and livelihoods to about 1 billion cases of
illness and millions of death every year, around the world is caused by zoonotic diseases. India ranks 1 st among top 20 countries in zoonoses, in global burden of disease.

In India 40 important Zoonoses have been frequently reported which include Bird flu, swine flu, rabies, leptospirosis, Q-fever, E-coli, brucellosis etc. which are causing heavy mortality and morbidity in animals and
mans as well as huge economic loss to country.

People can get infected by zoonotic diseases from contact with infected live poultry, reptiles, rodents, insects, amphibians and other domestic and wild animals. If we will see the history of major resent zoonotic pandemic in the world, we have encountered catastrophic zoonotic diseases in this century; SARS , H5N1 Bird Flu ,H1N1, MERS, H7N9 Bird flu and COVID-19 on going. These were the major zoonotic pandemics diseases which occurred in the world in last two decades. All those outbreaks have the zoonotic origin resulted in high mortality and also lead to crush the economy of the world.

If we will see the detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. According to the available evidence for COVID-19 which suggests that SARS-CoV- 2 has a zoonotic source.

This recent pandemic zoonotic diseases  appears to have originated from a Wuhan seafood market where wild animals, including marmots, birds, rabbits, bats and snakes, are traded. Corona viruses are known to jump from animals to humans, so it’s thought that the first cases infected with this virus were mostly linked to the Huanan Seafood, Wholesale Market.
Consequently the virus is thought to have zoonotic origin. Although an initial analysis of the virus that causes Covid-19 suggested it was similar to viruses seen in snakes. The hunt for the animal source of Covid-19 is still on. Scientists now suspect this coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, originated in a bat and somehow hopped to another animal, possibly the pangolin, which then
passed it on to humans.


There are so many reasons behind the seared of zoonotic diseases, but the most important one is urbanization and continuity in increase of human population, which have adverse effect on our ecosystem and result in the loss of natural resources and habitat for wildlife. More and more contact of animal and human, increased demand for agricultural land, exposure of livestock and humans to infections in the wild have played important role in zoonotic diseases.


Since zoonoses can infect both animals and humans, because these diseases come from animals, prevention and control strategies need to be innovative and require the combined efforts of many fields. For example, closer collaborations are needed between veterinarians, physicians, and public health professionals in 3 areas: individual health, population health, and comparative medicine research. Since veterinarians and physicians would be the key professionals to recognize and report outbreaks, enhanced communications between hospital epidemiologists, veterinarians, and local public health officials is required.

The medical and veterinary communities should work closely together in clinical, public health, and research settings, for better control of these important diseases.

The writers are: Block Technology Manager- ATMA-Srinagar and Scientist, Animal Science – KVK-Budgam, SKUAST-Kashmir

1 Comment on "Amid Covid-19 pandemic why we need to know about Zoonotic diseases"

  1. Farooq Ahmad | 8th July 2020 at 1:55 pm | Reply

    Is there any possiblity of reverse trasmission i.e zooanthroponosis

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